Non-Jewish faculty at Antwerp haredi Orthodox school strike over parents’ failure to test kids for COVID


(JTA) — Non-Jewish faculty members at a haredi Orthodox school in Antwerp, Belgium, have gone on strike, citing the failure of some parents to test their children for the coronavirus to the teachers’ satisfaction.

Most of the non-Jewish teachers at the girls’ department of the Jesode Hatora Beth Jacob school stopped working on Wednesday, the Gazet van Antwerpen reported Friday. They are responsible for teaching material required by the Belgian state. Jewish teachers teach Jewish studies.

The strike was over the failure of some parents to comply with the Education Ministry’s requirement that any student attending school be tested twice for the virus. The threshold of two negative results was the basis for a compromise that facilitated the reopening on Jan. 4 of primary schools in Belgium’s Flemish Region, where Antwerp is located.

Dozens of Jesode Hatora students have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks, as have some teachers.

Nico Horemans, the director of the non-Jewish staff, said he regretted the strike but that he “understands” the reasons for it, the Gazet reported. He also said there are no legal grounds to deny students without two negative tests access to school grounds.

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